To Bottom or To Submit: That Is the Question - By Headmistress Shahrazad

To the uninitiated, “bottoming” and “submitting” might seem like two words that mean essentially the same thing. However, while there may be aspects of “bottoming” in the experience of submission, the latter experience is in a league of its own. Since I often help folks clarify which kind of experience they want to focus on, I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to the differences between the two. As a professional dungeon we do offer experiences that cater both to bottoms and submissives, but the experience starts with you, and your ability to articulate what it is that you are looking for.

To start, let’s explore “bottoming”. A bottom is essentially a person who enjoys being the receptive party in an erotic encounter, the one who is having things done to them. Whether they are being spanked, being tied up, being penetrated, receiving sensory deprivation, being cross-dressed, being mummified, or anything else, they do so because they like the feeling of it and it gives them pleasure or physical release or deep relaxation. That last point is key, as pleasure is frequently their primary motivation for engagement. In these types of sessions, the Professional Dominant would assume the role of a Top or Experience Facilitator without necessarily imposing the language or ritual of a power differential.

“Submitting”, on the other hand, is a very different thing. A submissive is one who chooses to conform to the will or authority of someone who enjoys having control over them, because they like that feeling or find it personally fulfilling. Though someone who is submissive may bottom, their primary motivation is not necessarily their own pleasure but the pleasure or enjoyment of their Dominant. Instead of being physically motivated, submission is psychologically motivated, with the physical experiences being secondary to the mindset that they are exploring them within. For a submissive, the trappings and ritual of power exchange are very important parts of the experience, as they set the stage for the psychological circumstances that they crave. Things like speech restrictions, eye contact restrictions, referencing the Dominant with an honorific, or being restricted from sitting on chairs or furniture, help the submissive to remember that they are choosing to abdicate their power.

Sometimes, it takes experimenting with different kinds of scenes to see what has the most juice for you. Being the bottom for a variety of activities is a great way to start dipping your toe in the water if you are not sure what you like, because it allows you to focus solely on how something feels. If when you bottom you find that you wish you had more structure to explore within, or wish that you were having that experience for someone or at someone’s mercy, then perhaps submission is more what you are looking for. It is also important to note that not everyone is exclusively one thing or the other. It is entirely possible for one person to enjoy, for example, bottoming for rope suspension, while finding that they enjoy service submission in another context or with a different person.

Those new to the scene should be wary of opinions that rank submissives as “better than” bottoms, or those that view bottoms as “fake” submissives because they pretend they want to submit when really all they want is personal gratification. The reality is that they are two different approaches to kink, and to compare them is to compare apples to oranges. If a Dominant wants to play with a submissive and the person is a bottom they may be disappointed. But that doesn’t make the bottom wrong, it just means it’s not a compatible fit of play partners. If a Top wants to play with a bottom and they meet a submissive, they may feel equally pressured to have to put on false airs and be more Dominant than they really want to, to meet the needs of the submissive. This equally unlikely to be satisfying.

Taking time to think about the differences between bottoming and submission is one more step in the journey of coming to know yourself intimately within the vast arena of BDSM and kink. The professionals at The Ritual Chamber are both Tops and Dominants and are happily willing to explore with you, regardless of which bent you lean towards. Being clear when you inquire with regards to whether you want to bottom, submit, or both, helps us to craft an experience for you that will meet both your needs and your wildest desires.

The Ritual Chamber